The benefit and significance of humility as a virtue has been emphasized in positive psychology for a long time (Wright et al., 2016; Wong, 2003). Humility is a virtue worth having for everyone. Yet, positive psychologists are known to score low in humility.

This paradoxical finding can be best understood from the dialectical principle of second wave positive psychology (PP 2.0)—too much focus on developing one’s character strength leads to pride; this self-focus needs to be balanced by other-focus or self-transcendence (Wong, 2016).

The dialectical principle is essential in understanding the process of achieving a proper balance in positive emotions, positive traits, and positive institutions especially in adverse circumstances.

PP 2.0 and its therapeutic application, meaning therapy, emphasizes the adaptive balance between self and others, negative and positive emotions and traits. Also, it is a very flexible way to cultivate character strengths while maintaining the golden mean.

Learn more about meaning therapy this July 20-21 at the Summer Institute 2019 on “Transforming Trauma into Resilience through Meaning Therapy.”


  1. Wright, J. C., Nadelhoffer, T., Perini, T., Langville, A., Echols, M., & Venezia, K. (2017). The psychological significance of humility. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(1), 3-12.
  2. Wong, P. T. P. (2003, November). I’m glad that I’m a nobody: A positive psychology of humility. Positive Living Newsletter. Retrieved from
  3. Wong, P. T. P. (2016). Meaning-seeking, self-transcendence, and well-being. In A. Batthyany (Ed.), Logotherapy and existential analysis: Proceedings of the Viktor Frankl Institute (Vol. 1; pp. 311-322). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.


Wong, P. T. P. (2019, May 2). The positive psychology of humility. Dr. Paul T. P. Wong. Retrieved from